Best Barcelona forwards of all time
The strikers or forwards are the match winners since their goals regularly decide matches. Everybody expects them to win the game that is why the strikers are arguably the most important players in a football team.
The question is that what makes a striker one of the best. Goals and assists are no brainers, but is it numbers or quality which truly determines a great striker?
Strikers need special training; moreover, they need different traits, such as high self-confidence, speed, positioning, timing, and shot accuracy to become a great striker and it seems that most of the Barcelona strikers have had those characteristics.
As the best Barcelona striker of all time, Messi broke on to the scene at a club which has employed some of the greatest players in history and took what was once thought possible in the game to an entirely different level.
The following list includes the best Barcelona forwards in football history:
It should be mentioned that wingers have been excluded, however, wide players whose primary focus is scoring are included. Moreover, goal ratio per game has been calculated to easily rank the strikers
1. Lionel Messi
- 2004-present: 729 games, 633 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.87
- Football Index value: £4.80 (Sell) – £5.10 (Buy)
Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini, born 24 June 1987, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team.
As the best forward in the world and one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record six Ballon d'Or awards and a record of six European Golden Shoes.
While some might argue that Messi doesn't belong on this list due to his position on the wing, he has been one of the most prolific scorers in the world in recent years, and he has also played as a striker on a regular basis.
Messi has been utterly magnificent, mesmeric, and magical through his professional career. The greatest player in the world and probably the greatest player of all time.
However, when Messi was asked about his favorite striker, he said that he really believes that the Brazilian Ronaldo is the greatest striker he has ever seen.
"Ronaldo [Nazario] was a phenomenon. Of all the strikers I ever saw, he was the best. He was unbelievable," Messi said to reporters.
Messi was also asked about who his favorite strike partners have been during his time at Barça, and he answered, "Ronaldinho helped me a lot. I came into the dressing room at 16-17 years of age, seeing all those footballing giants made it tough."
"But he mentored me and made me feel comfortable, and I loosened up. Afterwards on the pitch, I always looked for him but we didn't have many years to enjoy together. Besides, we didn't play as much at that time. I would have liked to play more with Ronaldinho.
"I have played five years with Luis Suárez. Playing every three days, you get used to each other and play by heart. We have children of the same age, spend our lives together every day, and the relationship is growing ever stronger."
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2. Luis Suarez
- 2014-present: 281 games, 196 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.7
- Football Index value: £0.61 (Sell) – £0.87 (Buy)
Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, born 24 January 1987, is an Uruguayan professional footballer who plays as a striker for Barcelona and the Uruguay national team. Often regarded as one of the top strikers in the world.
On 11 July 2014, Suárez agreed with Barcelona on a five-year contract for a fee of £64.98 million (€82.3 million), making him one of the most expensive players in world football history.
Suárez was one of the best strikers ever to stick the ball in the back of the net for the Catalans, with his clinical finishing, intelligent movement, and fantastic dribbling.
In his first season at Barcelona, Suárez starred alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, an attacking trio dubbed MSN (Messi, Suárez, Neymar), and helped the club win the continental treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
In his second season at the club, Suárez won his first Pichichi Trophy as well as his second European Golden Shoe, for which, he became the first player since 2009 to win both awards other than Messi or Ronaldo.
However, The Barcelona striker’s decline has recently been obvious. His form today is a far cry from that of his 2015 days. Suárez seems to have lost his sharpness, ruthlessness, and fitness, which is a sad ending for a once great striker.
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3. Samuel Eto’o
- 2004-2009: 199 games, 130 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.65
Samuel Eto'o Fils, born 10 March 1981, is a Cameroonian retired professional footballer who played as a striker at Barcelona.
Eto'o was ranked as one of the best strikers in the world, and one of the greatest African players of all time, winning the African Player of the Year four times in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010.
Samuel Eto'o was at the head of the Blaugrana's attack for five years between 2004 and 2009 and won it all, including two Champions League titles.
However, Eto'o was never recognized with a Ballon d'Or, though by 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi's duopoly was underway.
Mourinho shared that sentiment when his former player retired, "It's difficult to understand how Samuel Eto'o never won the Ballon d'Or with the impressive career he had."
Eto'o won La Liga three times during his spell in Catalonia and was the division's top scorer in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Once Eto'o was asked about the best possible three-man forward line, commenting, “It’s very difficult to choose, but I’d go for Messi, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo 'O Fenômeno'.”
- 2013-2017: 186 games, 105 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.56
- Football Index value: £8.03 (Sell) – £8.33 (Buy)
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, born 5 February 1992, is a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward for Barcelona from 2013 to 2017. He is widely considered one of the best players in the world.
Neymar's move to Barcelona was one of the most talked-about transfers of the decade. He became one of the most important players in the squad and it was easy to forget that he was only 21 years old at that time. His name is rightly on the latest list of top strikers in world football today.
The Brazilian linked up well with his teammates and was a real menace going forward. He was creating assists and making his presence felt, but it took until late that year for Neymar to score his first La Liga goal in a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Neymar, dubbed "MSN", were the main attacking trident of Spanish football club FC Barcelona from 2014 to 2017.
Neymar once commented on MSN trio, “The friendship that we had was something very beautiful. What I miss from Barcelona and about Barcelona is these two, due to the joy we had on a daily basis.”
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5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- 2009-2010: 46 games, 22 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.48
- Football Index value: £0.20 (Sell) – £0.50 (Buy)
Zlatan Ibrahimović, born 3 October 1981, is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Milan.
Ibrahimović is widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation. He is one of the most decorated active footballers in the world, having won 31 trophies in his career.
The Sweden striker signed a five-year contract at Barcelona for €66m from Internazionale.
"It feels like I'm living a dream now,” Zlatan told reporters after completing his move to Camp Nou.
But it didn’t take long for the dream to turn into a nightmare. The iconic Swede left after just one year at Camp Nou.
Barcelona eventually sold Ibrahimovic to Milan in 2011 after a loan spell estimated to be at around £32.5 million.
It was generally considered as a missed opportunity for the club to lose a player of such remarkably individual characteristics.
2003-2008: 207 games, 94 goals
Goal ratio: 0.45
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, born 21 March 1980, commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and ambassador for Barcelona.
It is said that greatness is not always about what you do, but what you leave behind. Ronaldinho was a dizzying non-stop magic act for the first few years in Barcelona.
Everything he did was beautiful and effective. He was a rare phenomenon whose greatness lifted the Blaugrana up into higher levels.
Modern Barcelona simply would not exist had the Brazilian international not taught an entire club, an entire city, and an entire country how to dream again.
It was reported that Barcelona president Joan Laporta aimed at leading Barça to the forefront of the footballing world, and wanted to sign one of the three famous footballers, namely, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, or Ronaldinho.
Following David Beckham and Thierry Henry’s transfer to other teams, Barcelona entered the running for Ronaldinho and outbid Manchester United for his signature in a €30 million deal.
Ronaldinho signed a contract with Barcelona and won his first league title with the club in 2004–05, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004.
The Brazilian maestro won the FIFA World Player of the Year twice and received the Ballon d'Or once in his career.
In 2008, the magician agreed to join Italian giants AC Milan, bringing an end to his exhilarating run of form at Barcelona.
Later, Pep Guardiola took charge of the team and immediately offloaded the Brazilian because of a lack of professionalism.
It was reported that the world-class player was sold in 2008 since he used to be drunk at training sessions.
However, Ronaldinho believed that it was he who decided to leave the club, "Leaving the club was my own decision. Actually, I realized that I've achieved all my objectives in FC Barcelona and that I needed to go through new challenges.”
Finally, in 2018, Ronaldinho announced his retirement from football through his agent.
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1997-2002: 235 games, 130 goals
Goal ratio: 0.45
Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira, born 19 April 1972, known as Rivaldo is a Brazilian former professional footballer. He played mainly as an attacking midfielder but also as a second striker.
There is no doubt that Rivaldo was among the all-time best strikers at Barca. When he joined Barcelona in 1997, there was instability at the club.
However, it was during his time at Camp Nou that marked the summit of his career. In fact, the longer Rivaldo stayed at Camp Nou, the more important, effective, and famous player he became.
Rivaldo spent five years with Barcelona, where he formed a successful partnership with Patrick Kluivert, and won the 1998 and 1999 Spanish La Liga championship as well as the 1998 Copa del Rey.
In 2001, Rivaldo scored a hat-trick, the last goal of which was a last minute 20-yard bicycle kick winner, to win the game 3–2 against Valencia, which qualified Barcelona for the Champions League CF. It was ranked the greatest hat-trick ever.
As the leading goalscorer of the club with 130 goals, Rivaldo is Barcelona’s ninth highest goalscorer ever.
8. Thierry Henry
- 2007-2010: 121 games, 49 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.45
Thierry Daniel Henry, born 17 August 1977, is a French professional football coach and former player who is currently the manager of Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact.
He is considered one of the greatest strikers of all time and has often been debated by pundits and journalists as the greatest player in history.
In 2003 and 2004, Henry was the runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year and was runner-up for the Ball.
In 2007, Henry was transferred to Barcelona for €24 million and in the 2008-09 season, he was a key player of the club's historic treble when they won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
Henry was a huge fan of the club and once said, “If you like football, you like Barcelona.”
However, Henry left Barcelona for the Big Apple, by signing with a Major League Soccer team—the New York Red Bulls.
In 2014, it was announced that Henry had left the Red Bulls after four-and-a-half years at the club.
On 16 December 2014, he announced his retirement as a player and stated that he would begin working as a pundit.
9. Antoine Griezmann
- 2019-present: 41 games, 14 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.34
- Football Index value: £1.65 (Sell) – £2.17 (Buy)
Antoine Griezmann, born 21 March 1991, is a French professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the French national team.
Statistics indicated that the Blaugrana have steadily been taking fewer shots per game, which meant less chance of scoring since 1617.
This means that more attacking burden has fallen on Messi, having to play almost every match, that’s why his goals and assists have steadily risen despite his increasing age.
In 2019, Barcelona decided to add another forward because they believed that their attack has been on the decline for a while, so they signed Griezmann by paying the 120 million euro buyout clause to release him from Atlético Madrid.
The player later signed a contract with Barcelona for five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros.
Therefore, the world-class forward was chosen to help Messi. He has been recognized as one of the best strikers ever since his £24 million move from Real Sociedad.
It should be considered that Griezmann is four years younger than Suarez who is on the decline, therefore, he was supposed to reduce dependence on Messi.
When both strikers play, Griezmann can drop deep to allow Messi focus on finishing. However, both occupy the same position which is sometimes considered to be a problem!
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10. Alexis Sánchez
- 2011-2014: 141 games, 47 goals
- Goal ratio: 0.33
- Football Index value: £0.69 (Sell) – £1.14 (Buy)
Alexis Alejandro Sánchez, born 19 December 1988, is a Chilean professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Inter Milan, on loan from English club Manchester United, and the Chile national team.
In 2011, Barcelona confirmed that they had agreed to a €26 million fee with Udinese for the transfer of Sánchez, as the first Chilean to play for the Blaugranas.
The Chilean helped the team to win La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, and Club World Cup With Barcelona.
However, Sanchez did not live up to the expectations of Barca supporters during the 2012-13 season due to a succession of injuries that hindered his progress.
Later, he had to leave Barca for Arsenal in the summer of 2014 despite the fact that he had a contract with the Blaugrana until 2016.